Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo ... Athletes at the opening ceremony were clearly visible on TV with masks below their noses, but an athlete tells Axios that the COVID rule-breaking was going on well before that.
- It's been happening at least since athletes arrived in the Olympic Village, where masks were dropped below noses and different teams were forced to share buses.
- Even the official plan includes risks — via both flights to Tokyo and shared dining facilities, where people of course are unmasked.
Why it matters: Organizers insist the Games can be safe for both the athletes and the people of Japan. But fear persists among athletes, in part because the precautions are both insufficient and not always followed.
- Journalists, who've also been known to drop their masks, crowd onto official buses to get from one approved location to another. Several told me they think there could be a significant outbreak.
Zoom out: It's entirely possible — and strongly encouraged — that Americans and other foreigners at the Summer Games will go their entire stay without encountering a single Tokyo resident besides Olympic volunteers.
- I've been here since Tuesday, and the only Japanese people I've interacted with personally are the people in my hotel and those who helped me get from one pre-approved location to another.
For most residents of Tokyo, the only tangible thing they're getting from the Olympics is the bill, if not an increased risk of COVID.
- They're even being discouraged from watching the Games in groups.
Inside the dome: During the sweaty, muggy opening ceremony, a large protest outside was audible inside the largely empty Olympic Stadium — all the more so during a moment of silence to honor those lost to COVID and those killed during the 1972 Games in Munich.
How we got here: It's been a logistical nightmare for the press and the few other attendees, who had to sift through a half-dozen glitch-prone apps and websites.
- The precautions look more performative than protective. Now that we're here, we're forced to share crowded indoor spaces, including buses to the various venues, hotels and the main press center.
Read Ina's dispatch from the opening ceremony.